Ultima Ratio released in 2018 two sets, for both the French Musketeers and the Cardinal’s Guard, which were a fresh addition for the topic, which was not updated in a long, and not especially well covered. During 2020, Ultima Ratio updated the box content of the Musketeers, adding a new different sprue and changing total number of figures and poses. The same year, 2020, RedBox released 4 sets, split in foot & mounted, musketeers & guards, to cover the topic. These two brands releases are what we cover in this article.
Ger-Man (BUM associated brand) did a good effort covering the topic, with several sets of a good detail and sculpture level, but sadly casted in a not very appropriate plastic, and with their common limited production numbers, becoming very hard to find in no time, and always they were some expensive. We no longer keep an entry for these Ger-Man kits in the site, but whatever appear from Ger-Man in Ebay should be in our special page covering these brands.
Together with the Ger-Man sets, MARS had an attempt to cover the topic, in the MARS way, which was good in the sense that it was far from the novelistic topic, and focused on the real troops, but sadly with the brand sculpting limitations and mould limitations, which ruin most of the thing. Later, MARS increased its coverage of the topic with two mounted sets for both Musketeers and Cardinal’s guard, and released some more French troops for the period that we could have included in this article. Summarizing what MARS have done for the topic, you can take a look to the following figure sets:
Mars – 72083 – French Infantry and Guards (2nd Half of the XVII Century) (Some of the figures are dressed as appropriate for Dumas novel, while most of the set wears a late costume as the box title says).
Mars – 72078 – French Dismount dragoons (Not specifically issued as Musketeers but compatible in terms of French army of the era)
Mars – 72046 – French mounted guards of Cardinal Richelieu
Mars – 72045 – French mounted guards, Royal Musketeers
Mars – 72039 – Thirty Years War French Infantry and Guard (This and the two above are the exact coverage of the topic, MARS way).
Mars – 72044 – French Field Artillery (1st half of the XVII century) (Which completes the MARS effort to cover the French army during XVII century).
The last kit that we could include in this story, is the LW – 2027 – French Musketeers , not a so bad kit as the fame of the brand could make you think, but surpassed by Ger-Man and by both RedBox and Ultima Ratio in terms of sculpture quality.
Let’s start by Ultima Ratio box.
Originally it had one single sprue in a x 4 format, for a total of 32 figures in 8 poses. These figures are mainly (if not all) characters from Dumas novel.
It’s easy to assign these figures to d’Artagnan and the three famous musketeers. As well as Constance. While 3 other figures are harder to assign to a character.
Sculpture in this original sprue is very good, as it’s the lack of flash or plastic excess. Not even mould lines are noticeable. Detail of some parts it’s bit soft, not very crispy, while this keep figures more realistic it’s harder to paint.
Later a second sprue was added, and kit configuration changed to 24 figures in 16 different poses. The original sprue was reduced to just one, and you get 2 of the new sprue.
The second sprue, ads generic musketeer troops to the kit. An officer and 7 new poses for musketeers, two of them in firing position with a separated arm to avoid plastic excess. While this feature ensures there is no plastic excess, it forces to glue the arm, and these kind of plastic are never so easy to glue. Also interesting is the pose looting, or ready for a picnic which can be another reference to Dumas book.
Detail is good but bit soft again, and both sprues are some flattened from a side view.
The second type of the box, is better balanced than original one, one one characters sprue (instead of 4 of the original release) but it would have been better including the troops sprue in a x3 format, instead of just two.
Let’s follow with RedBox release.
RedBox box contains 4 equal sprues and then a separated small sprue with 4 character figures. Detail and proportions are very good, and figures are not flat at all in a side view. In our sample there is no flash and haven’t seen plastic excess to be worried about, but you will find a small mould line on every figure which can be a problem into paint the figures.
Maybe is not so clear as on the Ultima Ratio box, but in the main sprue the soldier not wearing the musketeer cossack can be assigned as d’Artagnan, and the other three soldiers in esgrima poses can be assigned to the three musketeers. This give us 6 more generic figures, x 4 = 24, but give us an excess of characters as happened in the original Ultima Ratio box. Luckily here, the three musketeers are not holding any other symbol referencing them as in Dumas novel, so they can be used as generic musketeers, and d’Artagnan can be used as a generic 17th century soldier.
From the remaining poses, we got 4 guys waving its hat, which looks like too much for us, considering also that you got that exact same pose in the Ultima Ratio original sprue. There is als no firing pose in the RedBox kit, but (at least) two of the poses can complement Ultima Ratio figures to create a real musketeers using their muskets unit. A small comment about the weapons themselves, RedBox ones are bit of too short for a 17th century musket.
Sadly, the officer pose is very similar to Ultima one, and you also get him x 4.
In the “command”/unique sprue, you can see two figures that will be very familiar to you if you already have seen Ultima kit pictures, and then you get two nice addition, a flagbearer and a drummer. Both, indispensable on any 17th century unit going into battle.
Let’s see how both sets looks together, and also how some poses are almost the same in both boxes.
The good is both kits stand well close the other, and in some aspects they are complimentary, specially if you are looking to built a musketeers with musket unit, you would want to mix bot sex, to get firing poses, and bit more of variety on the marching poses.
If your interest is only the characters, Ultima Ratio box should be enough.
In our opinion, RedBox kit could have been also better balanced, by including a larger unique sprue with characters and three generic musketeers sprue, with less esgrima pose and including firing poses. The amount of esgrima pose figures you get only make sense for a massive encounter with Cardinal’s Guard kit, which is in the exact same format.
Let’s see how these figures looks like together with some other 17th century well known kits released long ago.
As you can see in the pictures, they stand as something in the middle between the “too” big Zvezda musketeers, and the “too” small Revell or A Call to Arms (ACTA) from the English Civil War range. We also included couple of Mars figures, from a late 17th century Polish musketeers box, just for the sense of the size. To our eyes a good mix can be done between all of them, although some ACTA figures are too thin, as well as some Revell ones, and some Zvezda are too big. And some of the poor MARS figures are also usable.
For the last, some comparisons are hateful, but since we have also the Mars set for the same topic, you can see here how they look all together.